Recipe: Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili

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It has finally cooled down here and is starting to feel like winter. This time of year, I crave warm, hearty, nourishing bowls of soup, stew and chili.

It's no surprise that acupuncture theory stresses eating according to the seasons. This , of course, translates into eating warming foods when it's cold outside, and cooling foods in the heat. But it goes further than this. Foods that grow in your area, at a particular time of year, are there for a reason. For example, sweet potatoes are a winter vegetable, surviving the frost underground, and keeping well in a root cellar all winter long. They contain lots of complex carbohydrates, which account for their sweet taste. Our bodies crave that sweet taste more in the wintertime. It gives us more available energy for keeping our bodies warm, it brings a smile to our faces, another important thing when sun exposure is at a minimum.

As a bonus, this chili recipe includes tons of warming spices which help with digestion as well as keeping us safe from the chill in the air. It's a rather indulgent chili, with beer and chocolate and cinnamon, giving it layers of flavor.

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Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 tsp. each: cinnamon, cumin, cocoa powder, sea salt
1-2 small chilis, some seeds removed, minced (the seeds add heat, so leave in more for more heat)
1 large sweet potato, or a few small ones, cubed
1 sweet pepper (yellow, orange or red) diced
1 16 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 12 oz. bottle of dark beer, room temperature
for garnish: sour cream, chopped cilantro, avocado, shredded cheddar cheese.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion, stir to coat, and cook for a few minutes, until it has turned slightly translucent. Add the spices, salt, and chilies, stir again, and sauté until it smells amazing, about 1 minute. 

Tip in the sweet potato and pepper and give everything a giant stir to make sure it's all coated in oil and spices. Let that cook down a few minutes, then add the black beans, tomatoes and beer.

Cover the pot, turn up the heat, and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down and keep it at a simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. 

To serve, ladle into bowls and top with your choice of garnishes.

Serves 4